Reason Roundup

Here Come the New Lockdowns

Plus: Hallucinogen decriminalization is trendy, U.S. divorce rate reaches 50 year low, and more...


Surging coronavirus cases, surging restrictions. Rising COVID-19 case counts around the country are spurring new rounds of virus-related restrictions on business hours, at-home social gatherings, and in-person schooling.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's new orders go the furthest into hygiene theater, creating new limits on how many people can gather in private houses (10) and shutting down bars and other establishments that serve alcohol after 10 p.m. with little scientific evidence that such arbitrary limits will really help slow the spread. Even putting aside more philosophical concerns about dictating how many people can gather in private dwellings, the idea makes little practical sense, since there's a big difference between 10 people crammed into a tiny studio apartment and spread out in a four-story brownstone. Its necessarily selective enforcement threatens to come down hardest on politically or culturally disfavored communities. (See, for instance, New York City's obsessive focus on pandemic transgressions in large Orthodox Jewish communities.) Similarly, there's little reason to expect alcohol-serving establishments to be less safe than restaurants that don't serve alcohol. And giving New Yorkers fewer hours in which to congregate in semi-public spaces like bars and restaurants means more people packed into small indoor spaces at once, potentially exacerbating the virus's spread.

New Jersey's new restrictions—announced by Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday—have gotten less attention, but they follow the same illogic as Cuomo's. Murphy also instituted a 10 p.m. indoor closing time for bars and restaurants and banned people from sitting at a bar.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island is "strongly advising" people to stay at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. "It's an advisory. I am strongly advising you and asking you to stay home in your own house," Gov. Gina Raimondo said last Thursday.

In the Midwest, some states—such as Indiana and Illinois—are reinstituting restrictions in counties where recorded cases are high, and some areas are once again shutting down in-person schooling (or pausing reopening school plans). For instance: Earlier this week, the Cincinnati Public Schools board voted to entirely stop in-person learning again across the city school district; students return to online-only classes on November 23.

Other Midwestern states are extending emergency orders or putting new limitations on businesses and home-based gatherings statewide. In Minnesota, KSTP reports,

bars and restaurants are required to end dine-in services between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Indoor capacity will also be capped at 150 people. Bar seating will also be closed, with the exception of establishments that only have bar seating.

In regards to gatherings, there is a 10-person limit for indoor and outdoor gatherings, and all social gatherings must be limited to members of three households or less.

For events like weddings and funerals, an instituted phased approach with be put in place. However, eventually, a 25-person cap will be put in place. Reception events may also not take place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Iowa extended its state of emergency for another 30 days.

In Utah, "Gov. Gary Herbert issued a series of new restrictions, including a statewide mask mandate—a step he has resisted for months," reports The Salt Lake Tribune, and "unlike other restrictions, the governor intends to extend the mask mandate 'for the foreseeable future.' Businesses that fail to comply will face fines." In addition,

The new executive orders…limit any social gatherings to people in the same households and place a hold on all school extracurricular activities, including athletic and intramural events. These restrictions [took effect] Monday and will end Nov. 23, just a few days before Thanksgiving. The governor said the state will offer holiday recommendations in the coming days.

In Ohio, Gov. Mike DeWine urged people not to get together for "banquets, wedding receptions, and social gatherings following funerals" and said "we will be issuing a new order soon to place significant new restrictions on these social activities. Specifically, open congregate areas can no longer be open. The order will require everyone to be seated and masked unless they are actively consuming food or drinks and it will prohibit things such as dancing and games."

Maryland's governor has reimposed restrictions as well:

Effective at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Maryland restaurants must reduce indoor dining capacity from 75 percent to 50 percent. A new health advisory urges a 25-person cap on indoor gatherings. The governor also issued a heightened travel advisory that warns against visiting states with high rates of infections, ruling out nonessential travel to 35 states.

And in North Carolina, the Washington Examiner notes, "Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday ordered indoor mass gatherings to be limited to 10 people, effective Friday."

Meanwhile out west, several California counties—including San Diego and Sacramento—have gone back into their most restrictive ("purple") tiers of pandemic rules.

The New York Times has published a state-by-state guide of pandemic reopenings and re-closings.

Not all state leaders are rushing back into restrictions. Maine, Kentucky, North Dakota, South Carolina, and South Dakota are among the jurisdictions resisting new pandemic-related emergency orders. Some leaders in other states are not happy about that.


• Some geniuses are taking cruises again. It's going about how you would expect.

• London has erected a new statue honoring early feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and everyone hates it.

• "According to the new Census data, the median duration of current marriages in the U.S. has increased almost one year in the recent decade, from 19 years in 2010  to 19.8 years in 2019," reports the Institute for Family Studies. The U.S. divorce rate is now at its lowest point in 50 years—"even slightly lower than 1970, when 15 marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages."

• A California state legislator is promising to introduce a measure to decriminalize psychedelic drugs:

• RIP due process on campus.

• Donald Trump lost in part because third-party voters from 2016 preferred Joe Biden this year.

• Vice president-elect Kamala Harris "is the first female vice president. The first Black vice president," and "the first South Asian vice president. But, as some have mistakenly claimed, she is not the first multiracial vice president or the first one of color," notes The Washington Post. "That distinction belongs to Charles Curtis, who served as vice president to Herbert Hoover from 1929 to 1933. Curtis's mother was a Native American who belonged to the Kaw Nation, and he was raised on a reservation by his maternal grandparents."